Terradex at 20: Keeping the Startup Feeling in Pursuit of Long-Term Stewardship

Bob Wenzlau October 5, 2021

Can Terradex still be a startup after 20 years? That is the question I ask myself as I reflect on this milestone. A startup is a fast, bumpy, innovative ride to converge on the model, market, revenue, and profit, and is very much the norm in Silicon Valley. Although Terradex is in the business of the perpetual, it remains adorned by the spirit of the startup. So, my answer is yes, and here are three reasons why I keep this startup feeling.

First, the force of Terradex’s mission has never dissipated. The force of the mission is engrained in the startup. Terradex has targeted an essential need: enabling land stewardship through web technologies to protect the public and the environment. I am an altruist and seek to protect the public, community member, or worker, who might unknowingly come in contact with contaminated residuals. While protecting the public, we also serve our customers by protecting their cleanup remedies. The Terradex mission is a “win-win” for everyone.

Second, I get to work in the playground of innovation. In Silicon Valley many amazing tools are being assembled for monitoring land use and activity. Today’s technology, previously unimaginable, now includes satellite constellations, drone capture images, and artificial intelligence, all of which are routinely applied to detect land and structure changes. This tech revolution has enabled the development and deployment of our product offerings. Terradex adapts these new technologies for land stewardship. Satellites can remote sense and apply artificial intelligence. I can then utilize satellites to show a customer new structures on their remote land or a disturbance that might damage an ecosystem or a protective liner acting as a barrier to contain residual contamination. At Terradex, I get to adapt the technology and integrate it into our solutions like LandWatch.

Third, I get to pursue emerging markets to protect vulnerable land. Startups often surprise by creating and then fulfilling a market that is not apparent or by replacing an old paradigm with the new. Our current market is defined by specific areas of interest: land that is contaminated and vulnerable to public use and land that is sensitive, such as a habitat area, and vulnerable to development. In the coming years, land such as forests used for carbon sequestration will be similarly vulnerable to uncontrolled land uses. We further anticipate that efforts tied to climate mitigation and sustainable development will result in a new generation of lands that must be protected. As an experienced startup, we are poised to pursue these new markets as they emerge.

Even as a startup, in our first 20 years Terradex has made an impact. There are two main areas of our impact: 1) building the playbook of land stewardship that has become the industry standard and 2) the resulting impact as our stewardship technologies successfully protect public health and cleanup remedies.

When Terradex started, the industry’s focus was on conducting cleanups and not post-cleanup obligations. We discovered that because most remedies fall short of a complete cleanup, they create an obligation for long-term stewardship. At Terradex, we saw the need to fashion industry and governmental practice to fulfill this obligation. Over the last 20 years, we have been part of establishing a modern long-term stewardship framework, which included:

  • supporting EPA in its development of guidance for advanced methods for long-term stewardship,
  • leading ASTM standard development for Continuing Obligations that serve as long-term stewardship best practices,
  • developing data standards for long-term stewardship with ECOS, and
  • training over 6,000 practitioners via ITRC’s stewardship training, while
  • establishing Terradex’s data methodology now protected in a U.S. patent.

I treasure the impact Terradex’s team of 12 has made on our clients and the tens of thousands we protect. It amazes me that we send nearly 10,000 alerts a month to people moving into a new home, working to repair a sewer line, or installing a new water well. These simple, actionable messages keep people safe and protect our customers’ cleanup remedies from damage. I look back at many of our notable accomplishments with pride. We have successfully:

  • prevented a well from penetrating an aquitard, thereby protecting drinking water supply,
  • alerted a developer about encountering an area of buried ordinance,
  • protected homeowners by preventing an inadvertent vapor intrusion pathway installed by a utility contractor, and
  • supported compliance by alerting our client to a tenant’s activities in breach of an engineered control.

In the past 20 years, Terradex has set a path now encompassed by our three product solutions, LandWatch, DigClean, and WhatsDown. We introduce these solutions on the new Terradex web site emulating the protectiveness we seek to provide in vulnerable settings.

Thank You! We didn’t achieve Terradex’s impact alone. Building Terradex’s stewardship solutions has taken a village, including the Terradex team, our customer partners, and our colleagues in professional organizations. At 20 years young,Terradex has been an impactful and innovative startup and we proudly celebrate that accomplishment with you.

AboutBob Wenzlau
Bob is the CEO and Founder of Terradex. An environmental engineer by training, he has deep expertise in the long-term care of contaminated sites. Nearly 20 years ago, Bob founded Terradex with the original concept of an independent business that would monitor the effectiveness of institutional controls by screening land activity and use. Bob developed the LandWatch, DigClean, and WhatsDown products to address the varying use cases of any stakeholder of land contamination. He contemplated and created the Terradex Toolbox that allows customizations within each of the products to meet specific customer needs.

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